Tag Archives: Okee Dokee Brothers

New Video: The Okee Dokee Brothers, “Can You Canoe?”

I’ve been waiting for the new Okee Dokee Brothers record to come out since last year, when I found out they’d be preparing for it by spending a month canoeing down the Mississippi River. Well, it’s almost time — and to help whet your appetite for what I can already promise you will be one of the best family records of the year, the Brothers have debuted the video for the new LP’s title track, “Can You Canoe?”

Take a look. Pre-order your copy if you’re smart. Just enjoy the music if you aren’t. And check this space in a couple of weeks for a suitably effusive review.

A Conversation with the Okee Dokee Brothers

When I was a kid, nothing was more important than playing outside. My family lived in northern New Jersey, near the New York border, and the Appalachian Trail angled through was was basically our back yard; I spent some of the happiest moments of my childhood running through the woods with my dog in tow. And though we eventually moved to the more concrete-friendly environs of the Bay Area in California, I still spent countless hours riding my bike, exploring creeks, camping with my Boy Scout troops, and just generally exploring the outdoors.

I wanted my own children to experience those joys, and I’m happy to say they spend a lot of time exploring here in rural New Hampshire — but for a number of reasons, outdoor play isn’t the universal rite of passage it used to be, to the point where we have organizations like Play Outside dedicated to preserving it. If you think that’s as unfortunate as I do, you should be a fan of the Okee Dokee Brothers — and you’ll be excited to hear about their plans to spend a month canoeing down the Mississippi River while writing songs for their next album.

 

 

I was certainly excited — and I knew I needed to talk to the Brothers about their plans, their music, and what makes all of it special. Here’s what we discussed.

Let’s start off by talking about how you decided to enter the world of family music.

Justin Lansing: Well, we kind of fell into it. We’d been traveling around the nation as part of a bluegrass band, and it was awesome — it was really fun. But we eventually realized that six people was too many to travel with, and Joe and I wanted to start our own thing — something different.

One thing we’d been successful with, on a whim, was playing for kids in low-income communities — places like homeless shelters, daycares, soup kitchens. We thought if we developed that part of our act, so to speak, it might be something we could do full-time, and so we started writing songs in the absurd crazy styles that are accepted in kids’ music, and we just went for it, you know?

Joe Mailander: Yeah, we were kind of hooligans who would go around playing bluegrass for whoever would listen, and we started a non-profit organization that was funded through donations and grants, and we did a lot of free concerts through that. Continue reading

CD Review: The Okee Dokee Brothers, “Take It Outside”

Following the tradition established by albums like Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s Not for Kids Only, the Okee Dokee Brothers blow the dust off traditional bluegrass and highlight its playful spirit, offering kids a knee-high gateway into the world of American roots music.

Of course, it isn’t like trad bluegrass is particularly hard for all-ages audiences to enjoy, but that’s no reason to complain about Take It Outside, the Okee Dokees’ follow-up to their 2008 debut, Kids with Beards. Anything that connects kids with the primordial joy of song is all right in my book, and Outside represents an assured next step in the duo’s self-proclaimed “mission to remind children (and adults) of their intrinsic ability to discover, imagine, and create through music.”

For proof that the Okee Dokee Brothers know what they’re doing, you don’t have to look much further than the company they keep — Take It Outside was produced by Tor Hyams and features liner note endorsements by preeminent kindie critics Bill Childs, Christina Refford, and Stefan Shepherd, all of whom know a thing or two about great family entertainment. And it isn’t hard to hear why they’re Okee Dokees fans: This a 13-track bundle of fun, cleverly written bluegrass, recorded with a minimum of fuss and bother, and soaked in kid-friendly charm. Continue reading